13.Jun.2010 Slab Prep work

There has been more prep work for the slab – laying of conduits, prepping the holes for the skylights, putting in the boxes for the downlighters etc. the steel has all been placed and after some last minute changes to the design of the landing and other refinements we are just about ready to pour the slab.

The supports for the main bedroom slab have also been put in place and the various conduits and water & sewerage pipes have been threaded through the steel poles.

The weather has been up and down and looks to be wet for the coming week.

In between all of this we have just entered a very exciting time  – The World Cup! It’s been an exciting weekend and the energy in the country is at an all time high. Bafana Bafana did well to walk away with a draw to Mexico – it’s a great time to be a South African!

Hopefully the weather won’t dampen the spirits at the Italian game tomorrow (Forza Italia!)

And hopefully the weather won’t disturb the slab laying schedule this week.

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01.Jun.2010 Moving on & up

It’s been a  few weeks since the last post. I was away on holiday for 2 weeks and was pleasantly surprised to see that the ground floor walls are all pretty much done. The formwork for the first slab is busy being erected and soon we will be going up to the next level. The pace has been amazing and I can now really start getting a sense of the space. It’s getting more exciting, and more expensive, as we move along.

There have been very few hiccups – the only and more recent one is a door that needs to be moved as it does not allow enough space for a kitchen counter.

Other than that – window and door frames are in, the weather is playing along and it’s full steam ahead!

12.May.2010 Slab, heart & walls

The last of the conduits were put in position, the weather played along and the concrete was mixed.

It was a break in the grey weather and a few good friends that made Saturday quite a big moment in the House Bossi series.

Almost out of character, but probably in keeping with my hippie tendencies of many years ago, I decided that I needed to mark the moment of my home’s birth with some sort of ceremony. I wanted to add some  “good energy” to my home  – so using the old cliche of “Home is where the Heart is” I thought that burying a heart in the ground floor slab would be just the thing.

It was meant to be a moment between me and the concrete, but friends at lunch decided they wanted to join the ceremony and “bless” the stone. An impromptu ceremony followed amidst the chaos of concrete, steel and many hard working men – the home is now blessed with great sex, great fortune, great love and few other great things.

The heart lies somewhere between the kitchen and the dining room.

No sooner than the slab set, the walls have started coming up. They are sprouting quicker than I thought and it’s very satisfying watching them grow, adding personality and character to the space.  I feel like an expectant father. Or not.

I am off for 2 weeks on holiday and am looking forward to seeing the progress when I get back.

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07.May.2010 Steel & Insulation

The rain has stopped for a couple of days so progress can continue smoothly.

The steel is down and the slab is just about ready to be poured. We have added a layer of 40mm polystyrene (Sagex) underneath the slab for insulation. A home loses a lot of heat through its floors into the earth. The Sagex prevents a lot of this heat loss ensuring a more energy efficient home.

Before pouring the slab we also need to lay the conduits for the electrical and other points. The conduits for the various plug points and switches need to be set into the slab to prevent having to chop and grind through the concrete at a later stage.

We can only hope that we haven’t overlooked anything at this point.

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30.Apr.2010 Final Foundations

The foundations are pretty much done – the steel has been ordered and the slab will be laid next week.

It’s great to be able to start feeling the outlines of the structure  – from plan to reality is quite an amazing feeling. Size and area seem to be on a constant acid trip, warping every time I visit the site – some days the lounge feels huge, some days it feels too small. Once the walls are up the acid might wear off a little.

My FFL (finished floor level) issue was resolved and I will now stand slightly higher above planet earth than originally planned – about 10-15cm higher. This resolves possible water and garden height issues that could pose aesthetic problems later. So all good.

An aside: The not so good news is that Jeremy my uber-builder was involved in a mountaineering accident damaging his leg and worse yet lost a friend to the mountain. Condolences to him – not an easy thing to get through.

He has managed to hobble onto site since his fall. Better news is that his recovery, while not quick, will be full.

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13.Apr.2010 FFL – Deciding on the finished floor level

The foundations are moving along swiftly. The east boundary now consists of a very deep and very solid foundation.

The finished floor level is another decision that is critical at this stage. Once decided there’s no going back. I need to take various factors into account including height above the road for drainage and height of the garden area. The site is relatively flat although the west side does slope up slightly – it is possible to excavate some of the garden area to create a more uniform level – alternatively I could build the house slightly higher to compensate for the slope.

It’s a matter of centimeters.

We now also have a new corrugated iron site office.

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01.Apr.2010 Pouring the Foundations

After a few emergency engineering drawings and some scratching of heads, the foundations are being poured.

The fact that my property is approx 1.5m higher than my neighbour’s means that I have to get my foundations down to a level below their’s. This means my foundations are now about 1.9m deep.

The soil test results varied  – in some places it was good while in others additional support in the foundations was needed. The engineer made the following observations in relation to the complexity of the foundations.

a) The proximity of the neighbours lower level structures to the new structures

b) The fact that the neighbours retaining wall is not common, thus all new structures must be independent.

c) The existence of an old swimming pool which intersects the new foundations and thus introduces foundation and ground slab bridging complexities.

d) Subsoil and surface drainage issues.

It has all been taken into account and I will now have rock solid foundations and a slightly emptier wallet.

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25.Mar.2010 Foundations – 1 week later

The engineer has been to site to check it all out. We now wait for a DCP test as the soil wasn’t looking great for us to build the foundations on – this means two things: more time and more money.

But I have been assured that this is one of the few variables in the construction process that we cannot plan for entirely.

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18.Mar.2010 Day 1 – digging the trenches

The day has arrived and the men are at work. Finally the digging begins. Maybe we’ll find hidden treasure underground – I am hoping we find nothing but solid ground.

It feels like this moment has taken about 2 years too long but the wait is/was worth it. Structure done in 6-8 months if all goes well. Then the finishing.

10.Mar.2010 Site clearing

Step 1 is almost complete. The site is now pretty much ready for the building work to begin.

We couldn’t save the Strelitzia tree as it was much too big to move (bigger than originally thought) and there doesn’t seem to be a huge demand for the poor things.

I employed the services of Bruce Beyer and his Co-Creators at Beyer Honig landscapes. Great people doing good things. He also started the Peace Garden in Woodstock.